Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Of Finite Suffering and Infinite Ends...

"What is the most wondrous thing on earth?" asked the yaksha (a nature spirit), of Yudhishthir, the noble and wise, eldest Pandav brother, and thus he answered, "Each day countless humans enter the Temple of Death, yet the ones left behind continue to live as though they were immortal." 

That is truth of your life and mine, and of every soul in this world. 

And yet we grieve, we mark death, celebrate it almost, with rituals, with complex systems of dealing with the body and the house where it is kept.....each relative vying with the other to point out more 'must-do' things; some people participating only because they were born to point out flaws or mistakes in everything that they see. 

We crave finite ends. We crave closure. We want to see the body being burnt to ash. Going back to nothingness from nothingness. Obliterated. We believe it saves us. From what, we are not sure, but we believe. We fear we'll be lost if the body does not reach a logical end. We want to be sure we did what was required of us. To be sure we and those we love will not be turned into ever restless souls with no conclusion. And so we follow. We comply. We complete.

But who made these rules? Who decided what should be done with the body? Defined after all as only 'clothes' for the soul, to be cast-off when the time comes. And how many have the courage to challenge what has been said for ages? Dare to create an infinite end from finite suffering? How many go forth from this world to another, knowing that their body will be used and studied upon, and not knowing what conclusion will befall it? Not sure, if there even will be a conclusion? 

Would you be able to give away the one thing you think you truly possess, so others could learn to heal? Would you be able to deny your close ones the satisfaction of seeing you return to nothingness? Could you even in your imagination emulate the sage Dadheechee and give up what is yours for others' benefit? For when called upon to give up his spine to make a weapon to kill demons, he said "The body will one day wear out one way or another. Better to let it wear out from use for the benefit of mankind, than to allow it to simply rust away", and thus gave up his body for the making of the weapon. 
Would you be that sage? The one who doesn't bother about finite endings? The one who lives on through those who learn, who heal, who save so many others? 

It is not an easy question, but one that you must ask yourself. 

As a painfully-close relative of one such sage, who donated his eyes and his whole body, my anxiety at the inability to carry out what I thought was 'critical' for his soul's peace, was overcome only by my feeling of being completely overwhelmed by his 'largeness' of heart. Having given sight to two, within 2 days of his moving on to the other world, he continues to live on and see the world, from within newer, younger, shells. He lit up the faces of many medical students, and continues to inspire so many others to be braver, more confident and secure in their knowledge of the present, rather than being anxious about their ignorance of the future.

A true gift to the world, this is the ultimate sacrifice, and the supreme act of selflessness. It is a brave step towards an infinite end that could also be an infinite beginning..a sure-footed approach to leaving behind more than what one takes away. 


Mrigank Mehrotra said...

thank u so much fr putting it in words so beautifully ... it brought tears to my eyes ! hats off to u nana.... with loads of love. May your soul rest in peace... will always be proud of being your grandson and for this true service of yours to mankind.
" Dedicated to Sh Raghunandan Prasad Tandon (1929-2012) <3 <3 <3 "

drhimangi said...